Stainless Steel Etching
Stainless steel etching as a manufacturing process is becoming more popular because of the corrosion resistance properties of stainless steel and its wide availability. Etching is the method of imprinting, scratching, or otherwise forming grooves and fine lines on the surface of a material using machines with either CAD or CNC technology, hand-etching tools, or the process of chemical and acid etching.
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Applications of Stainless Steel Etching
Stainless steel etching may be applied to a variety of shapes and thicknesses of stainless steel plates, foils, and parts.
Stainless steel etching can be used to serve many different purposes, including:
- Decorative work on jewelry, firearms, and musical instruments.
- Text and basic designs on plaques, medals, and trophies.
- For industrial purposes, such as electric circuit boards, brake rotors, and fuel cell plates.
- In the medical field, for intricate components and precision parts.
Process of Stainless Steel Etching
In the chemical machining process, the surface of the metal part or sheet is covered with a masking layer, either of tape, wax resistant coating, epoxy or elastomer, or a photoresist. Using a scribe and peel method, or, in the case of a photoresist, targeted UV light, the desired design or image is applied to the masking layer. The chemical or reagent is then applied to the metal part, and the exposed areas are corroded or removed. In the case of stainless steel, ferric chloride is the acid most commonly used for etching purposes. When the desired depth of etching or engraving has been achieved, the acid is stripped from the part, and the masking layer removed to reveal the etching. Milling and grinding machines are also used to achieve certain etching finishes on stainless steel, especially on stainless steel sheeting used for larger decorative purposes and a wide range of options are available with these methods.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Etching
Stainless steel etching using chemical milling or acid etching is a popular alternative to other forms of metal fabrication, such as stamping, laser marking, or water-jet cutting, as it uses minimal mechanical processes and is cost-effective. Parts are able to be fully processed in a shorter turnaround time than other procedures, and they often do not require secondary finishing. This special alloy is not only corrosion-resistant and low maintenance, but is also fully recyclable. The designs and uses are virtually endless, and the ability to etch the surface of the product according to a custom design or pattern further adds to its usefulness.